Pluribus Networks has extended its switch-fabric software to server-based data processing units (DPU)\u2014aka smartNICs\u2014that can lighten the workload for server CPUs.\nPluribus has ported its Unified Cloud Fabric (previously Adaptive Cloud Fabric) software to the Nvidia BlueField-2 DPU, which offloads software-defined storage, networking, security, and management workloads from traditional servers.\nOther vendors such as AWS, VMware, Pensando, Aruba, and Intel are developing smartNIC architectures, and Pluribus is likely to support at least some of them in the future.\n\nUnderlying Unified Cloud Fabric is Netvisor One, Pluribus\u2019s virtualized Linux-based network operating system (NOS) that provides Layer 2 and Layer 3 networking and distributed-fabric intelligence. The NOS virtualizes switch hardware and operates without a controller. The software can be deployed across a single data center or targeted to specific racks, pods, server farms or hyperconverged infrastructures, the company said.\n\u201cWe now we have a common OS across open switches and DPUs, which allows us to unify networks that include both servers with DPUs and other servers and devices without DPUs,\u201d said Jay Gill, senior director of products & solutions with Pluribus.\u00a0 \u00a0\nThe idea is to offer customers a migration path to get to their target architecture based on distributed networking and security in DPUs while accommodating servers and devices that will never have a DPU, including special-purpose appliances and IoT devices, Gill said. \u00a0\n\u201cThis architecture also allows the fabric to extend to deep edge locations that may have only a single server with a DPU, eliminating the cost, space and power requirements of a separate network device,\u201d Gill said.\nThe idea of deploying smartNICs in the enterprise is in the embryonic stage, but the idea of offloading server CPU duties onto a separate device to free up server cycles promises to \u00a0reduce networking costs, improve performance and increase security.\nThe Pluribus software also implements distributed security\u2014a mandate in order to get to zero trust in the data center, Gill said.\nPluribus distributes security, including segmentation and stateful firewalls to the server level. It also includes application visibility and analytics for all traffic flows which improves trouble detection and resolution while eliminating the extra cost and incomplete coverage of separate monitoring networks, Gill said.\nWhile implementing distributed security protection is a primary use case for Pluribus, one future application on the vendor\u2019s roadmap is Kubernetes network offload, Gill said.\n\u201cKubernetes has its own networking approach, and if you want to have a container networking instance (CNI) you can run that in software on your server as part of the Kubernetes networking or you can have that running in the GPU and offload even one more bit of networking from the server to the GPU,\u201d Gill said.\u00a0 \u201cSo that\u2019s something we\u2019ll do to keep the networking just as simple as possible on the CPU itself.\u201d\n\u201cWhat Pluribus it trying to do will interest some enterprises and Tier 2 cloud service providers\u2014especially the ability to improve security through microsegmentation and the use of distributed firewalling right into the server,\u201d said Brad Casemore , IDC research vice president, data center networks. \u201cBut it\u2019s still very early, and it\u2019s going to take time for smartNIC\/DPUs to become more of a mainstream development.\u201d\nRegistration is open now for early field trials of Unified Cloud Fabric and Nvidia that start May 1.